The first female members of Saudi Arabia's Shura Council were sworn in by King Abdullah on Tuesday.
The Shura Council, composed of 150 members, councils the government in decisions regarding legislation. However, the Council does not have legislative powers itself and all members are appointed by the king. 30 women now hold seats on the Council, which is the first time women have held public office in the country.
Thuraya al-Arrayed, one of the 30 new female Council members told the BBC "I must say it's an historic occasion. I'm honoured to be part of it. If it works, if it is positive then it will change the attitudes that are still worrying about the participation of women. I'm not just talking about the Shura Council, I'm talking about the empowerment of women and their participation in the general affairs of the country."
Despite this advancement, women in Saudi Arabia face limited public involvement. In 2011, the King granted women the right to vote and run for public office as early as 2015. Despite gaining the right to vote, Saudi women still have to rely on male relatives or paid drivers to get around by car due to a religious edict issued by Muslim clerics. Women are also being tracked by text message.
Media Resources: BBC 2/20/2013; Al Arabiya 2/19/2013; Feminist Newswire 11/27/2012, 9/26/2012, 6/17/2011
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .